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Rostra and Temple of Saturn (Rome)

Rostra and Temple of Saturn (Rome)






Description of Rostra and Temple of Saturn

Ростра и Храм Сатурна (Рим)

Before Facebook and Twitter were invented, the Romans also had a place to express their useless opinions. And this served them their Forum. Or, more precisely, a place called Rostra. Rostra was built by order of Julius Caesar in the middle of the 1st century. It was here, according to Shakespeare, that Mark Antony delivered his famous speech after the murder of Caesar: "Romans, fellow citizens and friends! Listen to how I will speak for myself."

Later, Cicero's head and arms were exposed here. The wife of Mark Antony Fulvia pierced his tongue with a hairpin. Ironically, Mark Antony himself was defeated in the naval battle of Antinius in 31 BC. The noses of warships or the rostra were added to the existing podium. Hence the name Rostra or Rostral colon.




The temple of Saturn, which stands immediately after Rostra, dates back to 42 BC under supervision of Munatius Plancus (2 years after death of Julius Ceasar). It was built on the site of a more ancient temple, although earlier temples of the 5th century BC in the later years of the Roman Kingdom under Tarquinius Superbus. Its inauguration by the consul Titus Lartius took place in the early years of the Republic.

The present ruins represent the third incarnation of the Temple of Saturn, replacing the version destroyed by the fire of Carinus in 283 AD. The extant inscription on the frieze commemorates this restoration undertaken after the fire. If still in use by the 4th-century, the temple would have been closed during the persecution of pagans in the late Roman Empire.

In Roman mythology, Saturn ruled during the Golden Age, and he continued to be associated with wealth. His temple housed the treasury (aerarium), where the Roman Republic's reserves of gold and silver were stored. The state archives and the insignia and official scale for the weighing of metals were also housed there. Later, the aerarium was moved to another building, and the archives transferred to the nearby Tabularium. The temple's podium, in concrete covered with travertine, was used for posting bills.

According to ancient sources, the statue of the god in the interior was veiled and equipped with a scythe. The image was made of wood and filled with oil. The legs were covered with bands of wool which were removed only on December 17, the day of the Saturnalia.


Collapse has left little standing but the remains of the front porch. The partially preserved pediment displays the inscription:

Senatus Populusque Romanus incendio consumptum restituit

meaning "The Senate and People of Rome restored [the temple] consumed by fire." The pediment and eight surviving columns represent one of the iconic images of Rome's ancient architectural heritage.




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